MEDIA RELEASE: Federal Court to Decide if Mumia Abu-Jamal Has Right to Hepatitis C Treatment

Attorneys for Abu-Jamal file brief slamming DOC for withholding treatment

On Friday, March 11, attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed their post-hearing brief in support of Abu-Jamal’s motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide him with treatment for his hepatitis C. The 30-page brief summarized the extensive factual record from a 3-day evidentiary hearing held at the end of December 2015.

During the December hearing it was shown that Abu-Jamal has a chronic hepatitis C infection that is progressively attacking his liver, causing scarring, a severe, itchy, painful skin rash that has lasted more than 18 months, and anemia of chronic disease. Abu-Jamal also experienced a nearly fatal attack of diabetes in March 2015 that is also likely related to his hepatitis C.

There were surprises at the hearing as well. The head of the DOC’s clinical services, Dr. Paul Noel, revealed that tests conducted by the DOC show that there is a 63% chance that Abu-Jamal has cirrhosis, which means that the disease has progressed to the point that it is causing irreversible and worsening inflammation and scarring throughout his liver. Despite the extraordinary danger posed by Abu-Jamal’s condition, Noel testified under oath that the DOC will not provide treatment unless a patient has advanced cirrhosis and the presence of esophageal varices, which means that the patient is at risk of bleeding to death.

As argued in Abu-Jamal’s brief: “It is shocking to the conscience that the DOC thinks it is acceptable to withhold medical care until one’s liver has suffered irreversible damage accompanied by such severe damage to the blood vessels that the patient is literally at risk of bleeding to death. No matter whether such “active surveillance” is called treatment or not, it is a gross departure from medical ethics and constitutional requirements.”

Dr. Noel also revealed on cross examination that DOC counsel had submitted a falsified document in his name in September in 2015 that contained inaccurate and misleading medical information that was then used as the basis for DOC’s argument against plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitioist Law Center and Robert Boyle.

Read both sides’ briefs at the link below:

Brief in Support of Plaintiff`s Preliminary Injunction

Defendants` Brief in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction

Bret Grote       bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org               412-654-9070

4 Replies to “MEDIA RELEASE: Federal Court to Decide if Mumia Abu-Jamal Has Right to Hepatitis C Treatment”

  1. Would you explain:
    When you file in Federal court, your are using a Federal Law, the eighth amendment, which translates to a legal standard of ? intentional neglect?

    Could you not file a malpractice case in State Court, where what you would need to show is that Mumia is not getting the medical “standard of care”. I believe that the standard is now “treatment” where there is liver involvement. And now with the ” breakthrough” drug from Astra-zenica, even more so. Or could you not do both trials? I realize that with a civil suit, you cannot compel treatment, but it might be an even stronger message to the Department of Corrections, since it would apply to all the people in their care.

      • AH.

        The point is that malpractice should be enough to trigger the remedy, and not need to prove deliberate indifference.

        The brief argues that the two are the same but I dont see that you need to argue that.
        I understand that that is the *the eighth amendment” path that has gone before. Completely fine.

        But if they do not treat Mumia and he does go on to suffer irremedial damage as a result of this departure from the standard of care, he will become eligible for a malpractice award upon no further showing.Unfortunately there will be no other remedy available for him at the point, as there is no way to reverse the damage that will have been done.

        But isn’t it improper for the court to wait for damage, even insist on there being damage, and then comment at the time of the cash award, that unfortunately nothing else can be done that to correct the injury. It is now too late.

        The point is that malpractice should be enough to trigger the remedy, and not need to prove deliberate indifference.

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